Character Day 2017

Today is a day we are excited to celebrate as people all over the globe will be participating in #CharacterDay2017 created by Let it Ripple. The goal of Character Day is to spend time within your classroom, school, home...really anywhere, discussing what it looks like to focus on improving one’s character. Let it Ripple has quite a few free resources, including this great video called “The Science of Character” that you can show in your classes today. The video points out what we know to be true, that if you focus on character traits and intentionally look at how you can improve them, an individual can strengthen their character thus improving their own lives, but those around them as well.

Read More

The Journal [Blog Post]

At Arapahoe High School in Colorado, they refuse to be defined by a tragedy. In 2013, a school shooting left one girl, Claire Davis, dead and a school in shock. Days later, the Davis’ family spoke to the school and said they forgave the boy and that the school must pursue Love - not bitterness or hate or anger...

Read More

The Apology [Blog Post]

It’s pretty common, especially in a larger school, that there will be someone in the audience at an assembly that doesn’t want to pay attention. Usually, a dramatic pause or a carefully placed moment of direct eye contact (aka the “Teacher Look”) will remind the student that they can still be respectful whilst uninterested. More rare is the reoccurring pain in the butt...

Read More

How Teaching Servant-Leadership and Character Impacted One School

There are few people in this world who will disagree with you when you ask them if we should be teaching our students how to be more kind, patient, committed or humble, but it’s not everyday that you come across a school that builds their master schedule with one teacher whose full-time job is to teach students what solid character looks like. Inglewood Middle School is doing just that and has data to support the fact that it is changing their school’s climate and culture for the better and has seen a decrease in out of school suspensions by 90% since emphasizing the importance of teaching character-development during the school day.

Read More

5 Success Tips for Strengthening Your Student Leadership Team

Being a student activities coordinator is challenging. But even more challenging is being a student activities coordinator for over a decade. You really have to be in touch with your why to make it through the busy Fall when you are working 80+ hour weeks, the winters where you come to work in the dark and leave in the dark, and the long springs where you are doing everything possible to motivate your student leaders to the very last day to fight back that ever present “senioritis”.

Read More

5 Sentences Your Students Need to Hear From You

1. “I think you’d be good at it.”

In close to 20 years of working with a state student leadership program, I can tell you that the line I hear more than any other on why a student decided to step up and have the courage to get involved or run for office is, “I think you’d be good at it.” There is something about this simple, yet powerful statement that causes people to act and push their comfort zones. Maybe it has something to do with meeting the basic human need that all people have, which is to be paid attention to and appreciated.

Read More

Targeted Impact - Mini Lesson

Have you ever been frustrated with your brainstorming process? Have you felt like your projects have been disconnected from the people they are serving? Do your Kindness Weeks feel too generic? Check out this simple technique for brainstorming your next Recognition or Spirit or Kindness or Character or Love Week or Month so that you maximize your impact by getting specific about who you are serving!


Houston Circle Headshot for the blog newsletter.png

About The Author

Houston Kraft is a professional speaker, leadership consultant, and kindness advocate who speaks to middle schools, high schools, colleges, and businesses across the country. He has spoken to nearly a half a million people nationwide at nearly 500 events and counting.

Safe vs Supported

I was at a school recently that had just gotten their results back from a school climate and student safety survey they had done. The principal said one of the things that stood out was that 9 students who had self-identified as LGBTQ said they felt safe on campus, but not supported. It would be easy to dismiss it, but this principal was excited about opening up the conversation. His plan?

Read More

Fun Hat Trick Video

Here at CharacterStrong we know how crazy the last two weeks have been due to semester change, snowstorms, school closures/delays and for some of us learning 150 new student names! As a small token of our appreciation for what you do each day we wanted to give you a fun hat trick video you could use at your next assembly or a fun way to end class tomorrow! Hang in there, it's almost a long weekend!


The Family

I met a boy last week at a middle school who is in the transgender process. Born a female, but identifies as a male. The teacher introduced me to him specifically saying that he embodied so much of what I talked about - kindness, empathy, hope. His name is Chuck and Chuck started  one of the most simple but profoundly cool groups on his campus I’ve heard of yet.

Read More

Fingerprints of Kindness

I worked at Mattson Middle School in Kent, WA and one of the district employees pulled me aside after my workshop. His name was Brad. Brad said he wanted to learn about ways to sustain the message now that the speech was over. This is, of course, always music to my ears. YES! The speech is not where change happens - the speech is an opportunity for change to begin! Change blossoms when staff and students adopt the new vocabulary and new mindset that any keynote is supposed to impart. When staff repeatedly reference stories or concepts from an assembly - when they provide regular opportunities for students to reflect - the impact doesn’t disappear alongside fading feelings of inspirational stories. Impact lives on through the repeated conversations and shared vision/mindset/vernacular that stories create! 

That’s why I loved Brad’s next question: “Houston, when you work at a school that is doing things right, what is immediately evident to you? 

Read More

Teaching Kindness in Math Class [Scholarship Essay - 3rd Place]

The high school I teach at has roughly 600 students. I am currently teaching one section of Character Strong Leadership and five sections of math, and we all know how much high school kids like math. Out of the 137 minds that I get to mold each day, only twelve of them are enrolled in Principles of Leadership, a number that I hope increases in time.

I learned through servant-leadership and character development training that high school students are not learning the important skills to become better people. After the training and right before the start of the school year, I developed a goal for myself; I will share the servant leadership information to as many students as possible.

I quickly realized that this goal was very presumptuous, 

Read More